Collapse of Theocracy: United Kingdom
Understanding the Old Testament Lesson #013
April 2, 2000
Father, we do thank you so that we have the Holy Spirit Who indwells us and Who fills us and Who teaches us. He is the one who helps us understand and put together all these important doctrines to see how they relate to our lives. It is under His ministry that we advance and grow and produce fruit in the spiritual life; and it is under His ministry that we are able to glorify You. Now Father we pray that You will help us to focus this morning, to concentrate, to get beyond whatever distractions there might be in our lives outside of right now while we are here in Bible class that we might focus on Your Word. We pray this in Jesus' Name. Amen.
To continue our orientation to the Old Testament, this morning we are going to look at the collapse of the Theocracy and the rise of the Monarchy in the nation of Israel; the collapse of the theocracy and the rise of the monarchy. Now we have seen in our Old Testament analysis so far that the Old Testament is made up of basically in the English Bible about five groups. You have got the Pentateuch, which is the first five books of Moses, which gives the origination of the nation Israel and their constitution. It also describes the events of the Exodus, the calling out of Abraham, then the enslavement in the time of Joseph for approximately 400 years in Egypt, then the calling out from Egypt what is comparable to redemption. They come out through the exodus event. Then the disobedience at Kadesh-barnea, then that is followed by 40 years of wandering in the wilderness at the time of discipline when the entire exodus generation with the exception of Caleb and Joshua die under divine discipline; essentially the sin unto death. They were not allowed to go into the land and then they are on the verge of going into the land.
We have seen that in terms of the formation of the nation there are three requisite elements:
1. The People
2. The Constitution
3. And Land
We saw first of all the acquisition of the people and the supernatural character of that at the exodus event when they are redeemed by blood. Everything related to the Passover, the sacrifices, the lamb, putting the blood upon the doorposts to the house is a picture for us of our salvation through Jesus Christ Who is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.
Then we saw the second element, which is the constitution, which is the law. The Mosaic Code must be understood as a constitution for the nation Israel. It has not specific; I want to make that clear; it has no specific application to anyone else other than Israel from approximately 1445 BC (remember they left in 1446 BC and after that they spent a year in the Sinai); from 1445 BC until approximately AD 33 when Jesus Christ goes to the cross; Israel is under the Mosaic Code. Period, that is it; it is only for Israel and it is only for that period of time. It is a temporary covenant and a conditional covenant. The covenant, the constitution, as it were for the nation Israel, sets up a theocracy.
Now the word theocracy is a compound word. In the Greek \thē-'ä-krə-sē\ is from THEOS meaning 'God' and KRATEO meaning 'to rule.' So in a theocracy the ultimate authority is God. God is the ruler of the nation. In democracy, meaning literally the crowds, masses or mobs rule; "mob rule" basically is what democracy means. Then you have other various words, oligarchy, monarchy, describing different forms of rule. Israel was set up under a theocracy where God is the King and the symbol of His rule are the Ark of the Covenant, which is where He is enthroned between the cherubs on the Mercy Seat. The Ark of the Covenant, the tabernacle and then the priesthood basically function as the bureaucracy of the nation and it is through the priesthood that God communicates His will to the people and they (the priesthood) in turn act as mediators for the people as they come before God.
In the Mosaic Law we have the establishment of the sacrificial system. We have all of the various sacrifices, the peace days, all of these are set up to teach certain principles to the people about what it takes to come before God and all the laws related to uncleanness emphasize the fact that we are all sinners; and just about anything and everything we can do in life is going to separate us from God because it is tainted by sin. So in the Levitical offerings you see this emphasis on the devastating consequences of sin that affects every area of our life and yet the grace of God always provides a solution so that man can deal with his sin and come before God.
That deals with the first two elements of the nation and the people and the constitution. Last time we started to look at the third element that is necessary for having a nation and that is the land. God outlined a specific foreign policy for Israel that included two aspects to it:
1. Rules related to the city so that we are outside the land proper.
2. (Rules related to) cities inside the land.
The cities that were outside the land they were to proclaim peace to them. If they responded to Israel's offer of peace then they became enslaved and subjugated to Israel. The cities in the land were to be annihilated. God was going to completely remove the Canaanites from the face of the earth.
Genesis 15:16, God said to Abraham, even then God knew in His plan that the Canaanites would not recover from their carnality, their reversionism, and the perversion from all of their religious systems; but as always God in grace gives us time to work out the consequences of our negative volition. In Genesis 15:16 Gold told Abram, "Then in the fourth generation they will return here, (prophesying regarding the nation after their captivity in Egypt) for the iniquity of the Amorite (God uses the Amorites as a representative of one of the peoples. There were the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Gergasites; all sorts of different ethnic groups in the land. But they represent one culture; so here the Amorites represent all them.) is not yet complete." God was going to give that culture enough time to, as it were, completely hang themselves and indict themselves as guilty in the court of God.
So that set us up last time for the entrance into the land. When you look at the Book of Joshua; I want to backup and look at some things we could not see last time. When we look at the Book of Joshua it is basically laid out in two parts; the first half of the book up through Joshua 11 talks about the campaign to take and conquer the land. The second half of the book talks about how they take control of the land. They hit the big cities, the big areas in the first eleven chapters and then they divide up the land into various tribal allotments, which areas went to which tribe and then each of those tribes moved in for the mopping up operation to gain control of that area. [Slides are out of order…]
This is a map of the nation. We are looking at it sideways…. [Side note: Jim mailed me an article last week; some archeologist had claimed to discover under the northern end of the Dead Sea the remains of Sodom and Gomorrah. He (Jim) asked if it were true. I talked with Randy Price the other day and Randy said, no, it is not (true). He was doing to debate this with the location of the cities… The Dead Sea is several feet lower now than it was even at the time of Christ. So first, there is no indication that those cities remained underwater or stayed underwater; secondly, there use to be a tremendous amount of water flowing in the Jordan] and that is important because when the nation goes in they send in a couple of spies initially, Joshua sends in a recon team to check out Jericho. When that recon team comes back they report that they already know about us; they already know we are here and that we have a reputation. They have heard about the events coming out of Egypt and they are prepared. So if we want to have victory we need to go now!
The problem was that it was early spring; the Jordan was not only normally high at that time (it is not like that now) but at that time it was high and it was a flood. So God is going to demonstrate that He is the General of the Armies and the General of the Army of Israel and that the battle is the LORD'S. The battle is His and He is the One Who is going to lead Israel to a victory. The victory is going to be exclusively on His power and not their power. So no matter what problems might be and this takes us right back to problem solving; no matter what the problems might be or that they encounter, God is going to demonstrate that He is sufficient to overcome any and every problem and difficulty that they face in taking the land, but they must obey them exclusively. If they don't there will be problems and that is exactly what happens at Ai.
So the nation comes along and comes up out of the wilderness here [slide]. They come to the second Kadesh, [which is located right about here on the screen] and then they head north. They make their first attack [up this way] and they are defeated initially. They come back and have a second victory at a place called Horma; and this is an interesting word because its role in everything that takes place in Joshua. They have their initial attack coming up from the south and they defeat the first battle with the Canaanites at Horma. Now Horma has its root, remember, Hebrew is not vocalized. It does not have vowels, it just has consonants. So the root is hrm, which looks like this חרם (in Hebrew letters) in the Hebrew. Hebrew is always written from right to left. herem or cherem, c, a guttural ch, which means to put something under the ban; it means that it is dedicated to God for some purpose. It is a group that has been dedicated.
This word is used throughout Joshua and Judges to indicate that the Canaanites were all under cherem. They are dedicated for a specific purpose and that is annihilation and slaughter. This word is used over and over again. It comes across into English and in modern Arabic as harem. It is the same root. You take a group of wives that belong to the potentate and that are his harem. These women are segregated and isolated from the rest of society. It has its root back in this very ancient word for herem. It is the root for Horma, which is the place where they were defeated. So that gives you a little word history. Next time you get involves or travel or something like that maybe you can pull that out and impress everybody.
So they come up; they have the initial defeat and then they head over this way, to the west; they skirt the southern end of the Dead Sea and this area here that is shaded in lavender [map] to the southeast of the Dead Sea, to the southeast is Moab. And they come up along the King's Highway. There is a major caravan route and it is called the King's Highway. And they come up to enter the land right about here [map] and there are two battles. This area here that is east of the Jordon, called the Transjordan, across the Jordan, this is the area that they have two major battles in this Transjordanian area. First of all they defeat the Ammonites. This region here is called Ammon [on map], but it is predominantly dominated by the ethnic group the Amorites. So when you look at that in Scripture most of the time they are called the Amorites but it is in the land of Ammon. So don't get too confused over that.
Now Moses is leading them, they have their first battle against the Ammonites at Jehav, which is located right about here in this area [map] and then they head out to Edrei, which is located out in this area [map], up to sort of the southeast of the Sea of Galilee and there they defeat Og the king of Bashan. So that seizes control of the Transjordanian area, which will be the tribal home for Gad, Rueben and some of Manasseh cross the Jordan into this Transjordanian area. Then they come to the Jordan and it is at Nebo that Moses goes up to the top of Mt. Nebo and there he dies and he goes to the LORD and the angels and Satan fight over his body. The people are organized under Joshua and they head across to Jericho where they have their first major battle here [map]. Then they head up just to the northwest of Jericho to the city of Ai and this is the next major populated area; this is in Joshua 7. And then Joshua 8 tells of their battle with the Gibeonites. It was the Gibeonites who dress up to deceive the Jews. They say that they have come a long way and that they are not really living in the land. They deceive the Jews into entering into a treaty with them so that they would not annihilate them.
After they have their campaign in the central hill country the next section that Joshua deals with is the southern campaign. It is sort of a divide and conquers strategy that Joshua has. He goes into the central hill country, takes control of that by taking control of the major population centers. Then he goes south and he goes north. When he goes south he has to go against the southern confederacy, the king of Jebus, which is Jerusalem. Jerusalem is located on this map right about here [map]. He goes into Jerusalem. The king of Eglon, king of Hebron, king of Lachish, the king of Jarmuth, and they come out. This is how God deceived them; it looked as if it were an impossible task to defeat the enemy because they built these fortified cities. For example, at Gezer, which is located also down here in this area [map], at Gezer the archeologists have discovered that the walls from this period were 47-51 feet wide. That is as wide as a four lane highway; and they were 60 feet high.
So it is no wonder that when the twelve tribes went into the land initially and they saw these cities with these fortifications and these high broad walls surrounding them, they came back and said it is impossible; there is no way that we can do it. We don't the seize engine, we don't have a cadre of military officers that have been to West Point; we don't have any military engineers; we don't know how to take this out. So it looked impossible to them and as soon as the spies said it was impossible and we can't do it; the other two said it doesn't matter, with God nothing is impossible. So God can give us the victory and God did. He blinded the minds of the inhabitants of these walled cities and they came out from behind their walls thinking that because they had this confederacy, this alliance, that their army was powerful enough and large enough to defeat Joshua and Joshua defeated them on the plains of Israel between Aijalon and Gibeon.
So here is a map of the strategy. Each one of these maps is going to look at it differently. Here is the Dead Sea up in the upper right hand corner and here is Jericho and this red line is the Hebrews coming down through Gibeon, down this way doing battle at Lachish, down in the lower right hand corner. Then up to Hebron and then they move into this area right here [map] where they have the final battle where they defeat the Canaanite army. Then there is a northern campaign where they go up north to Hazor; I don't have a map of that. They go up north to Hazor north of the Sea of Galilee and there they defeat the Canaanites. The point is that they take control by seizing the major areas of the land.
Now the spiritual application that flows from this is found in Hebrews 3:7 to the end of Hebrews 4. So let's turn in our Bibles to Hebrews and just read a couple of those verses. What is important here is that when we look at Old Testament events they happened as they are portrayed in the Scripture. I want to make sure that we understand that. And when we start getting into some areas of typology and analogy sometimes people think that is like allegory, it really didn't happen that way, they just wrote it that way so they can make spiritual applications. No, that is false. The reason they can make spiritual applications is because this is viewed as accurate history, this is exactly what happened, and on the basis of that we can make application. The Scripture itself, notice this, the Scripture itself tells us how to properly interpret these Old Testament events. We are not just left to read the events and then just get inside our own intuition and based upon our own experience somehow come up with what we think the application should be. The Scripture itself tells us how to apply these particular events.
Hebrews 3:7-8 "Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,  DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS." So there is a warning to the church today, based upon the actions of the Jews in the wilderness and their rejection of God's provision. Hebrews 3:9 "WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED Me BY TESTING Me, AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS." The manna, the clothes that did not wear out, all the various miracles; it was also about that time that they came around the southern edge of the Red Sea. That is where they had the episode where the vipers appeared. The vipers came out and were biting all of the Jews and they had to erect a bronze serpent and that by looking at it they would be healed. That of course was a picture of Jesus Christ. So they saw all of these miracles and yet still continued to reject God.
Hebrews 3:10-11 "THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION, AND SAID, 'THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART, AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS'; AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, 'THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.'" The promised land is pictured as the rest for Israel—not that they would not have struggles but that that was the promise of God and in the land was the place where they would have all of the place of blessing from God; just as in Christian life when we are in fellowship that doesn't mean and when we are faith-resting that doesn't mean that we are free from adversity, free from trial, free from struggle, but that is the place where we see God give us victory over these things, and we can have the peace of God; we can have the peace that passes all comprehension and can share the happiness of God; we can have true inner happiness that goes above and beyond any circumstances.
So the warning to the Hebrews in Hebrew 3:12-13 "Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called 'Today.'" So the writer of Hebrews continues to build on this down through Hebrews 4 and you can take some time to go home and read through that to see how he applies these back to the spiritual life today. The principle that we learn from this is that the Bible always tells us how to interpret itself, how to interpret itself.
Now we come to see the fact that in the Book of Joshua we see this tremendous victory that God gives them over all the Canaanites. But something happens. They don't maintain the victory, they don't maintain the initiative; they become somewhat complacent and begin to compromise with God's commands. As we saw last time in Judges they just get to the point where they completely give up and they lose control of many portions of the land. I want you to turn with me to 1 Samuel 4:1 and we will see the nadir of Israel's history at this time. It takes place at the battle of Aphek. Now this is not one of those battles you are familiar with. It is not Valley Forge; it is not Gettysburg; it is not even the Alamo. But it is every bit as significant. It is perhaps one of the most significant battles in all of history and at least it is the most significant battle in Israel's history.
It is not a very long chapter (1 Samuel 14) and I just want to read through the chapter and give you some comments to give you an idea of what happened at this time. Now the events of Exodus took place in 1446 BC. They spent 40 years in the wilderness [timeline]. In 1446 BC you have the Exodus; 40 years in the wilderness means that in 1406 BC they go into the land. We know from comparing various other Scriptures that the conquests, the three campaigns of Joshua, were to seize control of the land takes seven years. By the time Caleb dies it is approximately 1350 BC. We know then that Saul comes to power as king about 1050 BC. So there is about 300 years covering the period of the Judges and these events take place, the battle of Aphek takes place at approximately 1100 BC. It might be 1090 BC, but just to give you a rough idea of when we are talking about. Samuel is the Judge during the time of the Judges at the end; the last three Judges mentioned in the Book of Judges are Jephthah, who fights the Ammonites and the Amorites in the east; and at the same time as Jephthah.
See the problem is that the way we read the history of Judges it looks like it is one Judge following another. But they operate at different areas in the land, some in the north, some in the south, some in the east, some in the west, so they overlap a lot. At the same time Jephthah is the Judge in the east dealing with the Ammonite threat; God is rearing up Samson in the west to deal with the Philistine threat. By the time Samson dies Samuel has already been born and Eli is the High Priest and Ei is also functioning as a Judge. So after Samson dies he is replaced by Eli. Samuel is just a young boy maybe five or six years old by the time Samson dies and Eli is operating as the High Priest. At the time of the battle of Aphek Eli is 98 years old. Samuel is somewhere between the ages of probably twelve and fifteen, just a young boy. Israel has been completely disobedient to God. They have not at all come back go God after the oppression of the Philistines. They have not sought deliverance; they have not confessed their sins and turned back to God; so God is going to judge them. That is the context of 1 Samuel 4.
1 Samuel 4:1-2 "Thus the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle and camped beside Ebenezer while the Philistines camped in Aphek." And the Philistines drew up in battle array to meet Israel. When the battle spread Israel was defeated before the Philistines who killed about four thousand men on the battlefield." So this is phase one of the battle. This is map for another purpose, but here is the Dead Sea here and up in the north the Sea of Galilee, just to orient you. Here is Jerusalem here; this is the hill country and the battle of Aphek takes place out here to the west of Jerusalem and it is going to open the door, once they are defeated in this battle. It is the last stand and the Philistines are just going to drive their armies all the way into the heart of the land. It starts off with phase one with this first battle and four thousand Hebrews are killed on the battlefield.
Now they are shocked and dismayed because they have been defeated, but look at how they respond to this problem. Unfortunately, this is how too many Christians respond. First they go out there and they try to have some kind of victory over the problem in their life. They deal with the problem on their own terms. That falls apart, so they come back and they use God like He's their magic wand, a lucky rabbits foot or some sort of other talisman. 1 Samuel 4:3 "When the people came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, 'Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh the Ark of the covenant of the LORD, that it may come among us and deliver us from the power of our enemies'." This was just a lucky charm here. There is no sense of spiritual reality here, no obedience to God, no submission to God. If we have the Ark we will win, sort of like what you saw in the movie the Ark of the Covenant. 1 Samuel 4:4 "So the people sent to Shiloh, and from there they carried the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD of hosts," YHWH Sabaoth, the LORD of the Armies, "who sits above the cherubim; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas…."
Now the two sons of Eli are the successors in the priestly line, so we need to catch what is happening here. You have the high priest, Eli, and his two sons; when Eli dies it is these incorrigible, these guys are like bandits. Earlier in the Text, I think it is in 1 Samuel 3, their sort of shaking down everybody who comes to the temple to worship. Every time they come to the tabernacle to offer a sacrifice they shake them down for all their money. They are in it for what they are going to get out of it. So they are just absolutely incorrigible and depraved. But they are the next in line for the high priesthood. They are the designated successors. So they are pulling out all their stocks. They are not only going to bring the Ark out, they are going to bring Hophni and Phinehas out with the Ark of the Covenant and that will give them victory. 1 Samuel 4:5 "And it happened that the Ark of the Covenant of YHWH came into the camp, that all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth resounded." 1Samuel 4:6 "When the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, 'What does the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?' Then they understood that the Ark of the LORD had come into the camp."
Now word had gone out and everyone is the area knows about the Ark of the Lord. 1 Samuel 4:7-10 "The Philistines were afraid, for they said, 'God has come into the camp.'" And they said, 'Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who shall deliver us from the hand of these mighty (people) gods?" They figure it is over with; the game is lost at this point. "These are the gods who smote the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. 'Take courage and be men, O Philistines, or you will become slaves to the Hebrews, as they have been slaves to you; therefore, be men and fight.'" See their gods can't win victories, so they really, even though they have heard all these stories, at the very core of their being they really don't believe that God can do it. So they think, well we are strong enough and tough enough we can still defeat the Israelites even is they do have this magic box out in front of them. "So the Philistines fought and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent; and the slaughter was very great (intense), for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers." Thirty thousand casualties in this battle. I do not know necessarily that they all died, but they had four thousand who died earlier. They probably lost at lease at least twelve thousand dead and maybe more. So this was a devastating defeat for Israel.
Let's put this in context. This was as devastating a defeat for Israel as the dropping of the atomic bombs was on Japan at the end of World War II in the defeat of the Japanese. This is crushing. Psychologically as a nation this just wipes them out. They think God has left them. They believe totally that the God in the Ark, Who took them through the Red Sea, Who took them through the Jordan and gave them victory over Jericho, over Ai, all of these, has just left them. God has left them. There is no more hope; they are absolutely devastated and they go into one of the darkest periods of their history between Aphek and really the time of David; they are in this darkest period of all of Israel's history with only a couple of exceptions. 1 Samuel 4:11 the Ark of God, this is the throne of God; God is enthroned upon the cherubim. This is the throne of the King of the nation now. "And the Ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died." It is the end of the priesthood. At this point there is no successor. It is the end of everything. That is how they were looking at this. This is it; God has left us; God has been taken; He has been captured; the priesthood is dead; there is no more hope.
1 Samuel 4:12-18 "Now a man of Benjamin ran from the battle line and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes torn and dust on his head. When he came, behold, Eli was sitting on his seat by the road eagerly watching…" That is really an idiom because as we will see, Eli was blind. "…because his heart was trembling for the Ark of God. So the man came to tell it in the city, and all the city cried out. When Eli heard the noise of the outcry, he said, 'What does the noise of this commotion mean?' Then the man came hurriedly and told Eli. Now Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes were set so that he could not see. The man said to Eli, 'I am the one who came from the battle line. Indeed, I escaped from the battle line today.' And he (Eli) said, 'How did things go, my son?' Then the one who brought the news replied, 'Israel has fled before the Philistines and there has also been a great slaughter among the people, and your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the Ark of God has been taken.' When he mentioned the Ark of God, Eli fell off the seat backward beside the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for he was old and heavy (fat). Thus he judged Israel forty years."
1 Samuel 4:19-21, "Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas's wife, was pregnant and about to give birth;" this is the hope of the nation; "…and when she heard the news that the Ark of God was taken and that her father-in-law and her husband had died, she kneeled down" it was so crushingly devastating that it induces labor. She immediately goes into labor and gives birth. "And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, 'Do not be afraid, for you have given birth to a son.'…" In other words, there is hope, a male child; the priestly line would go forward. "…But she did not answer or pay attention. And she called the boy Ichabod, saying, 'The glory has departed from Israel,'" Ichabod is a compound word. The 'I' is a negative prefix; 'habod' is the word for glory; his name means 'no glory.' There is no more glory in Israel. It is lost; the cause is lost. So every time you would pronounce this kids name you would be reminded of the defeat at Aphek. So the one who is left in the high priest's line now is the grandson of Eli. Every time they speak of him they are reminded that "the glory has departed from Israel and the Ark of God is taken." Now this shows several things:
1. First, this shows that the theocracy ends with this battle. After this there is a time elapse from anywhere from twenty to forty years depending on how you work out the chronology and we are not sure about a number of things here. But God is going to come along and institute the monarchy. What we are going to see is that the people are going to want a king for all the wrong reasons so God gives them Saul. God always intended to give them a king. You go back and read Deuteronomy, there are all sorts of regulations and laws pertaining to the function of the king. God had always intended to give them that king; the king was David. But the people wanted to jump the gun; they were impatient; they wanted to be like every other nation, and so God gave them Saul so that they would develop a little appreciation and capacity for when David would come along. But this battle shows that the theocracy has ended. The sign of God's reign is the Ark, the tabernacle, and the priesthood. The Ark is gone, the king is in exile, his throne is gone. The priesthood is destroyed.
After the battle of Aphek the Philistines pursue their victory and their initiative, they come to Shiloh and destroy the tabernacle. They wipe out everything, there is nothing left. The priesthood is almost destroyed; the only one left is Ichabod. He is a baby incapable of fulfilling the role, so how are they going to have a spiritual life as a nation? There is no priest there. This is devastating; it is a major turning point of history and it is the end of God's direct rule. Now I think that this is almost a dispensational shift. You will not find a single dispensationalist out there who is going to make a distinction here. But everybody defines dispensation basically as an administrative period in God's working out of human history. The dispensations are periods of time in the outworking of God's administrative control of human history. Every time God changes His way He administers human history we mark as a dispensational shift. I would say this is a major shift from God's rule of the people (of Israel) to an indirect rule through a human king. So I think that we could at least make this a sub-dispensation. This is a major event that is often overlooked in the history of Israel.
2. The second observation to ask the question why is it necessary that they are defeated? First of all, from a natural viewpoint the Philistines were militarily and technologically superior. They had entered the Iron Age as I have mentioned several times and they would not allow the Hebrews to have blacksmiths. So that means that they prevented the Jews from having access to the latest technology in order to protect themselves. It is always the way of the tyrant to keep the citizen from being able to own the latest technology, whether that is an oozy or whatever it might be in order to protect themselves. The issue is not sportsmanship; the issue is the personal protection of the home against the possibility of an encroaching federal power. Now this is what was taking place there. So the Philistines were superior and they wiped out Israel and then the real issue though is not their technological inferiority but that they were spiritually in rebellion. They have lost the capacity to enjoy their freedom and to live responsibly.
A couple of weeks ago I made a comment in relation to gun control and all the things that are going on with guns. And I reflected on that quite a bit over the last couple of weeks. I talked about how when I was young…; it was common to see gun racks in pick-up trucks in the southern states. No one ever made an issue out of it. What made the difference? It was not the guns; it was the people. You see what happens is that thirty years ago we still had enough residual effect from a Christian culture to where people had a sense of right and wrong and they had a level of establishment related integrity, so that even though they had guns at school they did not use them in a wrong or illegitimate manner. Well, what has happened is that there are more guns, it is that we have gotten so far removed from any kind of Christian value system in our nation, even in establishment systems that people no longer have the internal character to be able to handle it. What is going to happen is that we are going to see more and more encroachments in this arena and more and more events where kids are taking guns to school and shooting other kids; and each time that happens there is going to be more and more pressure to take guns away from people because people no longer have the inner core character necessary to handle responsibility and freedom. The only thing that can turn it around is an internal spiritual renovation. That is what eventually happened in Israel. And we will see that as we get into our study on 1 Samuel.
Now they (Israel) are defeated from a national viewpoint because they are inferior to the Philistines, but spiritually that is the real issue. This is the outworking of the cursive section of the Mosaic Law Code. And the principle that we see here is that as goes the believer, so goes the nation. The decisions that we make affect the nation. They affect more than us. Our decision to be here in Bible class week in and week out, twice on Sunday, once on Wednesday, listening to tapes, growing spiritually, applying doctrine, those are the decisions that will change the nation; without that it id not a direct correlation. It is not that as a church or Christians that we go out and we get into some kind of civil action and we march on Washington and we organize politically. That is not it. It is that when Christians are growing and maturing God brings in these secondary affects. God blesses the nation by association and so these other things are taken care of and there is the affect of the believer salt on the nation.
Psalm 78 goes back and rehearses these particular events and the tragedy that took place in the nation at this time. Psalm 78:60-64 "So that He abandoned the dwelling place at Shiloh, The tent which He had pitched among men, and gave up His strength to captivity And His glory into the hand of the adversary. He also delivered His people to the sword, and was filled with wrath at His inheritance. Fire devoured His young men, and His virgins had no wedding songs. His priests fell by the sword, and His widows could not weep." This is a devastating, devastating event in the life of Israel. Another principle that we should get from all of this is that our use of our volition might be a matter of privacy but its consequences affect everyone around you, either cursing by association or blessing by association. It may not be anybody else's decision what sins you want to engage in or how licentious you want to be at one point or another, but the consequences affect whether they are known or unknown; they are known to God and those consequences will affect everybody around you in the entire nation. So no man is an island; no man is an island.
We have seen that Israel spiritually trusted God when they went into the land under Joshua. Then by the time 300 years goes by they are in absolute defeat, the theocracy is ended, the priesthood collapses, the tabernacle is in ruins. What is it that took place during this time? That takes us back to the Book of Judges. We saw last time that the main idea in Judges was that everyone did what was right in their own eyes. They went into spiritual, cultural, moral relativism. The ultimate authority was no longer the Word of God; the ultimate authority was whatever anybody wanted to do. There was still relativism, the same thing that dominates today. They were unable, the Jews of the conquest generation, those spiritually mature Jews who conquered the land, were unable to pass on their faith to the subsequent generation. There was a failure of their parenting. The Scripture emphasizes that. They were unable to pass it on so that the next generation. Judges 2:10 describes the next generation as the generation who did not know Yahweh.
Israel has a history of being unable to pass on (spiritual maturity). They have generations here and there that are positive to the Word and apply the Word, but they seem completely unable to pass it on. That is why Solomon writes the Proverbs. There is so much emphasis in the Proverbs on what the parent's responsibility is to teaching and training up the children; because they continuously fail to do that. You see, sometimes in our culture people say, well, I just can't understand this kind of thinking; you see somebody who is a Methodist and Jewish or Methodist and Catholic. Well, we are just going to let our kids grow-up and make their own decision when they grow-up. Well, they won't make any decision when they grow-up. You have to teach a child because he won't just learn it. And if he grows up in that kind of a household all he is going to learn is confusion, then nothing matters and religion is meaningless. That is what he is going to learn. You have to make a stand and it is the parents' responsibility to teach doctrine to the kids over and over and over again. It is primarily the responsibility of the father to see that that information is passed on. And just as you have to hear it in church and in Bible class continuously, repetition, over and over again, you have to do that in the home.
Even Moses' family failed. We are told in Judges 18:30 "and Jonathan, the son of Manasseh (there has been a corruption of the Hebrew text there; the only difference between Manasseh; remember there is no vowels, mns/ms, you drop out the n and you go from Manasseh to Moses. There is a textural problem there; and in Judges 18:30 it says that "Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Moses introduced an idolatrous cult into the tribe of Dan. So you just see this continuous collapse of the nation throughout the period of the Judges. And it is exemplified within a short time when Deborah and Barak are Judges. For example, here in Judges 5:14-15 you see the passivism that affected the nation. They no longer had the heart for battle. They no longer had a heart for freedom. You read, "From Ephraim those whose root is in Amalek came down, following you, Benjamin, with your peoples; from Machir commanders came down, and from Zebulun those who wield the staff of office." In other words, as she (Deborah) and Barak were going into battle there were some tribes that sent troops in order to fight off the enemy, resisting. And the princes of "And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; as was Issachar, so was Barak; into the valley they rushed at his heels; among the divisions of Reuben there were great resolves of heart."
So these were the tribes that sent aid that sent troops. But there were others who were complacent. They had lost their understanding of freedom and their willingness to fight for freedom and they'd lost the principle of 'freedom is always preserved through military victory.' Judges 5:16 "Why did you sit among the sheepfolds, to hear the piping for the flocks?" That us the question that Deborah is asking. Why did you stay at home with your sheep instead of coming to battle? "Among the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart." They said, oh, well let's think about this a while, that is for the south, we are not really involved. They are not really knocking on our door yet. Why should we go to their aid and send our young men down there to die for them? Judges 5:17-18 "Gilead remained across the Jordan; and why did Dan stay in ships? Asher sat at the seashore, and remained by its landings. Zebulun was a people who despised their lives even to death, And Naphtali also, on the high places of the field." It was from the tribe of Zebulum and Naphtali that the majority of the troops came and they were willing to give the ultimate sacrifice in order to preserve the freedom of the nation.
So we come to the changes now in society, there are various changes as the result of the kingship that is going to take place.
1. First of all they are going to have a visible, tangible leader now. There will be a dynastic succession, this is not something they have not had in the past. Under the judges they had no idea who would come up next; God would just raise up a deliverer. So with the kingship there would be a change and they would have a new king.
2. There would be a centralization of power. Now there would be one man who would impose his will on the people. He would have an army, would be able to impose taxes, even extreme taxes upon the people in order to do whatever he wanted to do. God warned the nation that because they wanted a king this is what they would have to put up with.
3. Third, there would be the development of a privileged class within the society. One thing that is interesting, I have never had the time to really study it out completely, but the economic implications of the Mosaic Code. For example in the Mosaic Code every family, every clan is given their inheritance, their allotment of land. There is the recognition that somebody may make a bad decision here or there and get themselves in debt and have to sell off their land, their inheritance that God had given them in order to pay their bills. But every 50th year they would have a Jubilee year, every seventh year was a sabbatical year, 7×7 is 49, so the 49th year was the sabbatical year. The 50th year was a Year of Jubilee. On the 50th year all land, all inheritance land that was sold in the previous fifty years reverted back to its original owner. All the debts were forgiven, wiped clean. But Israel never applied the law in these areas. What always interested me was what impact that would have economically and socially on the culture. For one thing every 50 years went back to the same starting point. So you wouldn't have groups of small groups of people amassing tremendous amounts of wealth in that culture because wealth is related to land. Every 50 years the land went back to its original owner. Even if there was year forty seven and you needed to get money to pay off your debts you couldn't get as much as you could in year one. That provision is right there in the Levitical law that you could sell it, but it had to be prorated out on the basis of how many years it was until the Year of Jubilee.
Now they were going to have a king, and with that king there would be the development of royalty and an aristocracy supported by the taxes of people the element of the feudal system. So you have a complete transformation of Jewish society as a result of this king coming. Now let's look at the initiation to kingship in 1 Samuel 9. This is our picture of the king. The people have rebelled against God; they don't want God as King. They want to have a physical king just like all the other nations and so Samuel goes to the LORD and he tells the LORD about this and the LORD says, well I will appoint a man. This is our first picture of the first king of Israel. Well it is not really the first king, but it is the first king that is recognized. Gideon's son was crowned king by the men of Shechem. That was really the first king. If you ever want to trap somebody in a Bible trivia question, ask them who the first king of Israel was. Everybody will tell you it was Saul, but if you go back to Judges 9 there is within the text (and nobody ever reads) you discover that the son of Abimelech, the son of Gideon, was crowned king of Israel by the men of Shechem. It did not last very long. It did not go very far. It did not have universal recognition, but he was the first one crowned king.
But this is the first true king of Israel, Saul, the first in the United Kingdom. 1 Samuel 9:1-2 "Now there was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, … (it gives the background in verse one.) He had a son whose name was Saul, a choice and handsome man, and there was not a more handsome man than he among the sons of Israel; from his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people." He had a majestic presence; he has an erect bearing; he has a regal bearing; he looked like a man who should be king. Of course the first picture of him, to put it in our vernacular and using the King James terminology, is that he has lost his …. Now that is somehow is a little bit foreshadowing of Saul's problem. One might say he can't find his donkeys with both hands.
1 Samuel 9:3 "Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul's father, were lost…." So he is out looking for the donkeys and he can't find them anywhere. He eventually finds them through the help of Samuel who sends him to a prophet it is in this period that it is demonstrated that Saul is the one who is going to be designated king. But our picture is that the last thing that he wants is to be king. But God chooses him to be king and there is a vast difference between Saul and David. Remember that at the time Saul is chosen the nation is spiritually bankrupt; they are economically and militarily bankrupt. The Ark is gone. The Ark, which was at Ashdod, was taken by the Philistines, taken down to Ashdod, where it was put in the temple of Dagon. The temple of Ashdod had a huge statute of Dagon and every morning they would come down the statute, the idol of Dagon was down on its face bowing in obedience to and doing homage to the Ark of the Covenant. So they kind of scratched their heads on that and decided to move it. They moved it to another town and then everybody got a bad case of the hemmorids, so they needed to move it again.
I taught Samuel several years ago; first and second Samuel is one Book in the Hebrew, Samuel. I taught Samuel several years ago and the language in the Hebrew is extremely earthy. Most American Christians can't handle the kind of language that the writer in the Hebrew uses. It is the kind of language that I think the people who grow-up on the farm would be familiar with comfortable with, but the average middle class evangelical who has never seen an animal born on the farm just can't handle it. It is very earthy, descriptive language, almost course in its approach. There is a lot of humor and play on words and the whole episode with the hemmorids is quite humorous, but it just flies right past the English meaning.
So the Ark is taken and finally the Philistines say we can't put up with this anymore, let's get rid of the Ark, but, just in case, it is not what we think it is, we are going to set up a little test. We are going to take a couple of milk cows, these are cows who have just given birth; they have the calves and the calves are still milking (nursing) so the calves don't want to leave the mother and the mother does not want to leave the calf. They say, we will take these two milk cows that have never hitched to a wagon and we will hitch them up to a wagon and we will put the Ark of the Covenant on the wagon. Now you would expect under normal conditions that the one cow would go one way and the other cow would go the other way and both would want to head back to their calf as quick as possible. They lock the calves up in the barn, but the two milk cows just make a bee line to Israel taking the Ark back to Israel. When the Ark comes back to Israel, what does Saul do? Saul ignores it; he ignores it. Saul is totally self-absorbed when it comes to his reign. Saul is not concerned for God; he is not concerned for the priorities of God and so he just ignores the Ark.
Now Saul was a believer; I think it was clear because the Holy Spirit comes upon him. He is not indwelt like in the New Testament, but the Spirit comes on him.
1. Saul is a believer.
2. When Samuel comes back from the dead; that episode with the witch of Endor, when Saul goes to the witch of Endor and he finally caved in and said, I am going to go to a necromancer to call the dead and have a séance, I have to have some insight here. I have to get in touch with Samuel to find out what to do. Samuel appears. God allows this one time in history, for the dead to come back. And Samuel comes and Samuel says, tomorrow I will see you Saul with me. Well that indicates that if Saul was going to be with Samuel then Saul was a believer.
Now I am amazed at how many people think that Saul wasn't a believer because he was so carnal. Just because you are carnal does not mean you are not a believer, folks. You cannot do anything right spiritually and you are negative your whole life does not mean you are not a believer. It is important to introduce some of the contrast between Saul and David. Sometimes we glorify David too much. Think about this, just in terms of normal human approach, Saul is removed from the throne finally, the last straw is that he goes into battle with the Amalekites. The Amalekites are part of the Canaanite hordes that are under the ban to be annihilated and God says kill every man, woman and child and destroy all the animals.
The same command that they should have been following all along with regard to the Canaanites. So Saul just like -- it has such a touching modern ring to it in terms of modern liberalism. Saul goes into battle with the Amalekites and defeats them but he doesn't annihilate them. You see, Saul scratches his head and says, if I kill Agag like God says then he won't have another chance to be saved. If I kill him… maybe if we leave him alive he'll get a chance to be saved; and he might make something and maybe he might repent and make something of his life. And if I destroy all of his goods and wipe out all of his cattle and sheep, then that is not doing anybody any good. We can gather them together and sell them and give the money to the poor or we could use the money to somehow do something spiritual and impress God. So he rationalizes his disobedience. Saul is rejected because he doesn't obey God, but the interesting this is that Saul is rejected because he doesn't kill somebody.
David is not rejected though he commits adultery and murder and conspiracy and cover-up. Now think about that, what makes the difference? You see in America we get this idea that somehow spiritual leaders have to almost walk on water. And yet if you examine the Scriptures that is not true, especially in Israel. They did not have the Holy Spirit. And you look at Jephthah and Gideon and all of them. These guys were sinners. They still have sin natures and there is nothing, there is not one thing that any of us is incapable of doing after salvation apart from the grace of God. So Saul is removed because he doesn't kill someone. David is kept on the throne despite his adultery and murder, why? Because Saul is indifferent to God; it is seen in his whole approach to the Ark. He doesn't bring it to Jerusalem. He doesn't try to rebuild the tabernacle. He just leaves it out in the woods for the dew to fall on and he really doesn't care. But David has a heart for God. At the very core of David's person, no matter how much he might mess up; no matter how badly he sinned, at the very core of David's nature he wants to do what God wants to do. He wants God's priorities for his life. That is the difference. He is called a man after God's own heart, and that is exactly what that means.
We see this contrast in Ps 132:1-6 "Remember, O LORD, on David's behalf, All his affliction; how he swore to the LORD And vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob, 'Surely I will not enter my house, Nor lie on my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes Or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob. Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah, We found it in the field of Jaar'." All this time throughout Saul's reign the Ark is just left sitting out in a field throughout Saul's reign. He just doesn't care; Saul is negative to God. David is positive. That is what makes the difference. It is not that one sinned less. In fact, I think if we looked at Saul's life; if we look at the sins he committed, they would not stack up as being nearly as heinous as the sins that David commits. Now David suffered for sins. God brought divine discipline into David's life and he went through a miserable, miserable time with all his children due to all the consequences of his sin, but God did not remove him from the throne; God treated him in grace because David was positive and Saul was negative.
Well that brings us to a very important subject, which is the Davidic Covenant, which is the hallmark of David's reign. We do not have time to get into that this morning, so we will come back and start with the Davidic Covenant next time. With our heads bowed and our eyes closed. Father, we do thank you that we have the time to look at Your Word and to see how throughout history You have worked under the same principles of faith alone, of grace, of Your goodness. But there is judgment for sin, but there is also grace. You have always provided the solution. The solution today as the solution then is always the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. In the Old Testament they anticipated it; in the New Testament we look back to it. The work of Christ completed our salvation. He paid the price in full so that salvation is based on nothing else but faith alone in Christ alone. Father we pray that if there is anyone here this morning that is unsure of their salvation, uncertain of their destinies, that they would take this time right now to make that certain. All you need to do is put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. It is not a matter of works or moral reformation or doing good or going to church or any other human factor. It is simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Father help us to understand the things that we have gone over this morning; to the spiritual principles and implications for our own lives that we may be challenged to learn from their example and not to treat You lightly but to continue to trust You to solve every problem, every difficulty in our life. We pray this in Jesus' Name, Amen.